Chinese Warriors

5.35 Kuniyoshi.jpg


Kuniyoshi, Utagawa.


Chinese Warriors


ca. 1840.


Ink and light color on paper, signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga and sealed.


Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798–1861) was one of the last and best-known Japanese print-makers working in the traditional ukiyo-e style. He specialized in color woodblock prints depicting scenes from the Chinese “Water Margin,” tales which enjoyed great popularity in Japan in the early nineteenth century. Like most woodblock printmakers, Kuniyoshi was also a painter, but only a handful of his paintings survive. This superb sketch of two Chinese warriors locked in battle is a rare exception. The painting was the gift of a Japanese print collector and entrepreneur Shugio Hiromichi (1853–1927), who had been elected to the Club within a few months of its founding in 1884 on the strength of his expertise in the field of Japanese woodblock prints and illustrated books. He lectured at the Club on Japanese books and printing in May 1887, and in 1889 he mounted a major Grolier exhibition of ukiyo-e, the first in the city, mostly drawn from his own collection.


Gift of Shugio Hiromichi.